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Kyle Larson Feels NASCAR Excuses for Not Increasing Horsepower Don’t Hold Water

Kyle Larson NASCAR horsepower 2024 Next Gen car Short track package

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Add Kyle Larson to the growing list of drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series that would like to see a move to increase horsepower in the Next Gen car after the revised short-track package only improved the product at Phoenix Raceway very minimally this past weekend.

Larson was on the Dale Jr. Download this week, where the topic came up, and he said he’s confused as to why NASCAR is so reluctant to at least give additional horsepower in an attempt to see if it could improve the racing at short tracks.

“At least try it,” Larson said. “Just take us to, I don’t know, Richmond or wherever, and go test. Go to Martinsville. Go test and try it out.”

Larson is the second big-name driver to raise the question of horsepower this week, the other being Denny Hamlin, who talked about it on his show Actions Detrimental. Hamlin, who is the co-owner of the 23XI Racing team, says that the engine bill is no different for the teams with the reduction in horsepower and that teams were spending the same amount when they were bringing 900 horsepower engines to the track a few years ago.

Hamlin said if you want to know why the horsepower is where it’s at currently, to, “call Jim France and ask.”

NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Brad Moran spoke with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week about the situation this week, and he says that he believes the engine bill would not actually be the same if horsepower was increased for the NASCAR Cup Series teams from its current level of 670.

“Once we open up the horsepower, we have to have all three manufacturers on board,” Moran said. “As soon as you open that up, there’s going to be development, there’s going to be reliability issues and putting that cost back into the engine builder’s category, where they certainly will develop the engine. As soon you open any horsepower, they’re automatically going to do that. They’re the best at it, and that’s what they do.”

Moran also chalked up the stagnant horsepower number to being where it is in efforts to attract additional manufacturers to the sport, a longstanding NASCAR talking point.

“The number we’re at seems to be where we want to be to potentially get new manufacturers interested,” Moran explained. “And if we start getting away from that number, it can create problems in that area. But we’re always open to everything and we do consider everything, but there’s a lot of different parties that have to agree before that can happen.”

Larson hears the point of NASCAR trying to appeal to new manufacturers, but at what point are these interested new manufacturers coming?

“I feel like they’ve always used the excuse of — or at least I’ve heard the excuse of — well, we’re trying to keep the horsepower to where other manufacturers might want to come in,” Larson said. “Well, as long as I’ve been in the sport, which is longer than 10 years, it’s been the same three manufacturers. So, maybe somebody else is coming, and maybe they’re the ones pushing for the horsepower, but I’ve yet to see anybody new come in. And all of these engine builders and teams are saying it’s not going to cost any different to do it.”

For those wondering how long it would take, and how intensive of a process it would be for the engine shops to bring a higher powered engine, Larson says the Hendrick Motorsports engine department has told him they could bring 1,000 horsepower engines to the track as early as next week. A sentiment that Hamlin also shared.

Last fall at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell expressed that everything was on the table for NASCAR to improve the short track package for the NASCAR Cup Series — including expanding horsepower numbers. O’Donnell was hopeful to make massive gains to the product without changing the horsepower, but said it would be in the toolchest if needed.

If a new manufacturer is not currently at the table negotiating with NASCAR to join the fray, perhaps it’s time for NASCAR to open up on the horsepower numbers for the short tracks at the very least.

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2 Responses

  1. TRY 1000 HP AT NORTH WILKESBORO THIS YEAR, NON-POINTS SHOW AND LET’S SEE IF IT IMPROVES SHORT TRACK RACING, YOU WILL LOSE FANS TO THESE BORING SHORT TRACKS IF THEY DON’T DO SOMETHING!!

  2. I totally agree with we need more horsepower. All the manufacturers that are in NASCAR now have street cars with more horsepower than a Cup Series car has. That’s pathetic it wouldn’t add squat to the cost to build a 900hp motor. Then on top of that you would see who could really drive. As you should have to use the brake pedal and the gas pedal in every corner not hold the gas pedal to floor every corner every lap. And on the short tracks 900 hp would be exciting to watch.

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